St. Clement of Rome

I just returned from San Clemente, near the Colisseum, where the feast of St. Clement, one of the early leaders of the Roman church was celebrated. It was an affair that burst out into the surrounding neighborhood as the relics of the saint were carried through the streets before returning for Mass at 6:30 PM. This beautiful church which rests upon another below and a fascinating complex of other buildings goes back to the 4th century and is a favorite of visitors to the city.

Tonight the church was lighted with torches on the outside, like a birthday cake. Cardinal Hummes officiated at the celebration. About two hundred people followed a Roman band and the community of Irish Dominicans and the cardinal and four stalwart young men carrying the golden bust of St Clement containing the relic through the streets. The Dominicans have been in charge of the church since they were banished from Ireland during Reformation times.

The climax of the procession was a waterfall of fireworks that stopped the procession at one point. Smiles on everyones’ faces. Who doesn’t like noisy fireworks?

The one thing we know about St.Clement for sure is his letter to the Corinthians. They seem to have been troublemakers in the early church, and Clement’s letter is basically telling them to cool it. We need to love each other more.

Maybe that was the saint’s message tonight as he went through the crowded streets where a good number of drivers were fuming that their favorite route was interrupted by a procession.

I have some fine video of the event, and I came home with some tea and cookies for some of the boys at Saints John and Paul.

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